By Brandy Vickery, Contributing blogger
We call it “falling off the wagon,” and it’s a pattern we continuously fall into on our journey to be fit and healthy. We try diets, workout programs, and weight loss or weight gain remedies, but we end up right where we started.
The question is, why? We know how to eat healthily; we know exercise is critical to a strong heart and body, but we just can’t stick to our goals. The answer is that we take on too much at one time. Intense exercise routines are overwhelming for beginners, and when we completely deny ourselves the treats we love, it’s only a matter of time before we cave.
However, there are ways we can stick to our fitness and health goals. It’s a slower process, but one that will work long-term. In this article, we discuss the common mistakes everyone makes when it comes to diet and exercise as well as offer advice on how you can stick to your goals.
Track Your Food and Exercise
Before you set any goals, commit to a diet, or start exercising, try tracking your food and exercise. A fitness tracker serves several purposes, such as:
Visual representation: We often learn best through images and a tracking program shows you how much you eat, what you eat, and how often you eat and what exercises you’ve completed. It will also give you charts and tables comparing your food macros or displaying your fitness progress.
Awareness: A food diary makes you aware of what you’re eating and how many calories, fat, carbohydrates, sodium, and sugar you’re consuming. You might think, I don’t eat much. But realize that between coffee and soda you drink 1,000 calories a day. It’s a great way to become aware of your food habits and identify any changes you need to make.
Preparation for future goals: Tracking your food and exercise prepares you for future goals. It’s the foundation for keeping goals such as consuming less than 100 grams of carbs a day, maintaining your macros within a certain percentage, or making sure you walk a mile a day.
Eating habits: A fitness tracker will also help you identify your eating and activity habits. For instance, you might eat a lot of protein but could use more fruits and veggies or you may be less active during the weekend. On the other, you may not even be eating enough calories.
- Track progress: Progress tracking is one of the greatest benefits of keeping a diary of your food and exercise. For instance, you may start off lifting 5 pounds during weight training and discover a month later you’ve moved to lifting 10 pounds. Seeing your progress is a great way to stay motivated.
You can track your fitness through several mediums, such as applications like MyFitnessPal or through a diary that you can buy at any book or retail store. Many fitness enthusiasts utilize both because each offers a different set of benefits.
Create Attainable Goals
The biggest mistake we make when we try to be fit and healthy is setting complex goals. For instance, wanting to lose 50 pounds in four months, run a 5k within a month or two, or going on an extreme diet. While it’s great to have big fitness goals, trying to achieve them quickly is daunting and often ends with us not reaching those goals.
The other mistake we make is comparing ourselves to other people. We want to look like a celebrity or we want to build muscles like a wrestler or athlete. Several factors determine our stamina, weight, muscle tone, and physique. We should only compare ourselves to who we were in the past and strive to be our best selves.
Instead of focusing on big goals or reaching your big goals quickly, make small changes that you can stick with for the long run. You might consider walking a mile three times a week, eating vegetables with every meal, or park further away from the store.
You can also turn your big goals into smaller goals. Rather than trying to lose or gain a lot of weight, break it down to 5 or 10-pound increments. For exercise goals, try to increase your weights by a few pounds within a month or break the 5k into running for a specific and short time.
Make Eating Healthy and Exercising Convenient
Our other problem is that we are busy people, work, family, socializing, and staying active; the list alone is enough to wear us out. This is exactly why we grab prepackaged foods like chips, candy or diet bars that are often packed full of processed ingredients, sugar, fat, and carbs.
At reindeerteam we suggest having healthy foods readily available. Fruits, vegetables, cheese sticks, and protein snacks like nuts on hand are excellent quick snacks.
Meal prepping is another step you can take to stay on track. If you have breakfast, lunch, and dinner planned and mostly ready, you won’t be tempted to grab one of those snacks that are high in sugar or fat.
Feed Your Cravings in Moderation
Feeding your cravings seems like you might be sliding back, but it’s okay to have a treat once in a while. If you indulge occasionally, you’re more likely to stick with your goal versus completely restricting yourself which may tempt you to binge eat.
The key to enjoying treats and staying fit is learning self-discipline. Teach yourself to say no even when it’s hard, when other people are eating whatever they want, and when it’s your favorite guilty pleasure. If you learn to say no to yourself, you’ll be able to occasionally enjoy a treat without overeating.
Try New Foods and Activities
Just like children, we have short attention spans. This is just one of the reasons we fall off the wagon; the same workout and food get boring. Keep things fun, engaging, challenging, and interesting by trying new foods and exercises.
There are many substitute recipes for your favorite foods which are lower in carbs, sugar, fat, or calories. You may even find you like the healthier versions than the traditional ones.
Trying a new exercise plan or class is an excellent way to stay motivated and interested in your workout. New activities also keep your muscles from becoming complacent since you’re not doing the same exercises repeatedly.
The Bottom Line
At reindeerteam we know it can be difficult to stick to a food or exercise regimen and many of us here know what it’s like to fall back into old habits. That’s why we encourage men and women to make changes they will stick with for the rest of their lives.
Utilizing a fitness tracker, seeking new experiences, and allowing yourself the occasional indulgence are just a few ways you can make life-long changes. You should also take things slow. We’re often tempted to rush to our goals, but as we know, slow and steady wins the race.